Our flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg is one of the longest you can take – and it was certainly the longest flight we’d taken, by about two hours. Of course, as Steve already mentioned, what was supposed to be about 15 and a half hours was more like 17 and a half because of delays in Atlanta.
The librarian in me believes that “knowing is half the battle” so I spent weeks researching “How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight.” A lot of what I found was pretty interesting and helpful so here, for all of our friends who might come to visit us, are my tips. Steve wrote the last post about things he loves – now it’s my turn:
I have a standard travel outfit that takes me everywhere. Simple and comfortable are key, but I also refuse to wear anything resembling pyjamas on a plane. The trick? Clothing that feels like pyjamas! I bought this dress second-hand in Missoula and it is the perfect travel dress. It is lightweight cotton in classic black and is floor-length, which means that I can tuck it around my legs when I’m sitting cross-legged on a flight (note: flights are just as uncomfortable for short people as they are for tall people – your legs get pretty tired when your feet don’t touch the ground). This dress, coupled with a shawl in my power color, is perfect for looking nice but feeling comfy. Paired with my shoe-of-choice, heeled Danskos (easy to slip off and good looking, though not good for running through airports), and I’m ready to go!
I got off a red-eye from Seattle to Boston one morning and drove to my friend Kelley’s house. She wasn’t in when I got there – she was out for her morning bike ride. When she came in she was sweaty from a tough ride, and we laughed about not hugging hello but, truth be told, my plane-funk-self was in far worse shape than she was. I love traveling but I haaaate the way planes make me feel. I’ve become that person who washes down every surface with an anti-bacterial wipe the minute I sit down. Pretty soon, I’ll be traveling with a facemask.
Traveling without makeup on is, for me, like traveling in pyjamas. It’s just something I don’t do. On this long of a flight, though, I made the decision to take all my makeup off at the airport, so I used my favorite face oil from Little Barn Apothecary. It came in my Petit Vour subscription box (sample sizes of amazing stuff, all cruelty free) and I love it. I seriously have no idea how my face ever got clean before. This oil takes everything off – dirt and makeup and other gunk – without drying. A quick massage of this and then a wipe-off in the airport bathroom and I was clean as a whistle.
Once I was on the plane with my super-clean skin, I spritzed on the Balancing Face Mist from Mullein & Sparrow (another PV sample) to lock in whatever moisture I had before the re-circulated plane air sucked it all out of my face. Before “bed” I wiped down with the Yes to Grapefruit facial wipes, spritzed again with the face mist, and followed this with the Juara Java Plum & Avocado Nourishing Mask (PV, again!). The mask can be left on as a deep treatment so I decided that with 12 hours ahead of me I might as well try it. We try to buy cruelty free household products, but I made an exception with the Colgate Wisps, which made brushing our teeth super easy in the tiny airplane bathroom. I’m a huge fan of Hand Shit lotions, which my mother-in-law introduced me to (try it out – that stuff is incredible), but I wanted something lavender scented for the trip to help me try to sleep, so I used a regular old hand lotion from CVS. I finished with my absolute favorite lip balm, barebalm, in my absolute favorite flavor, lemon mint. This lip balm is made right in Missoula with organic Montana honey by my favorite place for all things beauty – the Grizzly Bare. All of this was topped off with comfy socks on my feet and an eyemask on my face – effective in blocking the light from your neighbor’s screen (ahem, “Portlandia” fans).
Our original plan was to land and meet some of my colleagues from the University, so I wanted to look presentable. At that point we thought we’d still make our flight, so before we landed I relied on a few tried and true products to make me look like I hadn’t just spent a day and a half on a plane. Mai Couture blotting papers sop up any oils, and minimal makeup – Physician’s Formula BB Cream and argan mascara, Kani Botanicals Galaxy Milk (another PV find and an awesome highlighter), and Modern Minerals lip creme – were easy to apply in-seat. The Youngblood brow shaping kit (from the Grizzly Bare) makes me feel polished even without makeup, and my good old Tova perfume in a solid compact made me feel like I was (somewhat) presentable to my future colleagues.
I stocked up on in-flight reading: Serena on the cover of VF and The Handmaid’s Tale, which I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read. I also kept the Kindle nearby, and packed my journal. I finally got a smartphone and, while I didn’t intend to use it in-flight, I wanted it close by. I actually planned on writing this blog post on the plane, but I only took my laptop out of my bag to buy some in-flight wifi to let colleagues in Botswana know that we’d likely be late into Gaborone.
A lot of people recommend buying dried fruit and nuts to eat on the plane – the quality of airplane food isn’t great and healthy snacks are impossible to come by once in the air. Our version of bring-your-own-snacks was a bag of Sour Patch Kids, which we never ate. I find international flight meals not too bad, as far as that goes, and I don’t like sitting and snacking for hours on end so I didn’t feel like I needed to bring extra food on board. My meal – specially ordered vegetarian – was a bean dish with greens. It was ok – Delta has nothing on Emirates, which is what we flew last time. I skipped a drink with dinner so I didn’t add to the dehydration and – full confession – I didn’t get to any of the entertainment because I decided that on a long-haul flight that would culminate in a professional meeting I needed to sleep. I ended up taking a sleeping pill and slept for the majority of the flight. I managed to get a few NYT crossword puzzles in, but Serena and Margaret didn’t even make it out of the bag. I normally try to journal on flights and I didn’t get to that either, which I regret. On the flip side, I slept for about 9 hours, which did double duty of helping me rest and helping pass what otherwise would have been a pretty boring flight (unlike Steve, I can’t manage to watch movies on planes). People either tend to love or hate sleeping pills for long-haul flights. I’d never tried one before, but I have to say I didn’t mind it. It probably isn’t going to be something I do on all flights, but in this instance I nodded off to a pretty good chemical sleep and landed feeling not-too-bad.
So there you go. My travel essentials for long-haul flights – hopefully they’ll come in handy for you when you decide to visit us!
Note – these are just my personal product preferences. I don’t get paid to review any of them (but I totally would: hit me up!).